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Canadian Friends of Wahat al-Salam - Neve Shalom

Tuesday 9 June 2009


The Canadian Friends of Wahat al-Salam/ Neve Shalom is dedicated to dialogue, cooperation, and a genuine and durable peace between Arabs and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis by encouraging, supporting, and publicizing the projects of Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom, the “Oasis of Peace.”

Current Focus:

In June of 2008, 25 Palestinian children, aged 10 to 13, from a refugee camp at Tulkarem in the West Bank, attended an overnight art workshop at the Oasis of Peace Primary School, together with 25 Jewish and Palestinian children from the village of WASNS. The children from Tulkarem spent a day and a half there, and got to know the village children of their age. Together, they played, swam in the pool and had fun as children everywhere would. With guidance from Jewish and Arab artists, they drew and painted about 80 pictures on canvas and paper. This activity was made possible thanks to a special grant from the Netherlands Embassy.

“See Us From Your Heart” is an exhibit featuring some of those paintings created by the Palestinian and Israeli children, and is now touring the globe. The dual purpose of this exhibit is to help raise awareness of the human stories unfolding right now in the Israel-Palestine region, and to promote hope and active cooperation for change. Part of this exhibit is now traveling around Canada to share this village’s story. This tour has been organized by the Canadian Friends of WASNS. These works reflect the children’s current realities, hopes and dreams. It is our hope that you will see them ‘from your heart’.


- Telus Science Centre - Children’s Museum, Calgary AB, September 2008
- The Alberta Children’s Hospital, Calgary AB, October 2008
- Onebluewall Gallery, Calgary AB, November 2008
- Calgary Public Library, Fish Creek Branch, Calgary AB, December 2008
- Millennium Public Library, Winnipeg MB, February 2009
- The John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, Edmonton AB, July 2009

Presentations (Presenting the story of the village and the evolution of the exhibit)

- Fish Creek Public Library, Calgary AB, December 2008

Exhibit at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary

Additional photos of the exhibit in several venues are available at this Picasa album. Please contact Canadian Friends of WASNS for more information about how to arrange a showing of this exhibit.

Contact information:



Donations to Canadian Friends of WASNS are gratefully accepted for efforts in promoting and supporting the work of the village. Global Aid Society has generously offered to accept donations designated for Canadian Friends of WASNS in order for donors to receive a tax receipt for 100% of their donation. Please include your name and address along with your donation in order for a tax receipt to be issued. Please make your cheque out to Global Aid Society, put ’Canadian Friends of WASNS’ in the memo line and mail to:

Global Aid Society
4319 Coronation Dr SW
Calgary, AB Canada T2S 1M3

If you prefer to make a donation directly to the village, refer to the direction donation page of the village’s website for instructions.

Active members:

Dr. Ronnie Joy Leah is a Faculty member at University of Calgary, Communication and Culture. She visited the Oasis of Peace in August 2005 while attending the Women in Black International Peace Gathering in Jerusalem. Ronnie Joy is a Jewish woman deeply committed to peace and social justice, and a founding member of Calgary Women in Black. Ronnie Joy is President of the board of Canadian Friends of WASNS.

Brenda Hamdon Dushinski, RN, BScN. has spent time in Israel and Palestine. She has facilitated workshops for nurses in the West Bank exploring Canadian and Palestinian women’s health issues, and has also worked in collaboration with a Canadian Medical team providing humanitarian medical support in the region. Brenda participates in Calgary standing silently for peace with Women in Black and is the Muslim representative for Women in Spirituality. Brenda is Secretary of the board of Canadian Friends of WASNS.

Pamela Sewers is a very active volunteer within Calgary. She enthusiastically accepted the nomination of Treasurer once she was exposed to the purpose of WASNS. Pamela’s international travels with Habitat for Humanity have reinforced her desire to promote peace, highlighted the importance of community, and gave her first hand participation within a small group of people creating a world of change – all very important ingredients to WASNS. Pamela is Treasurer of the board of Canadian Friends of WASNS.

Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman is the spiritual leader of Temple B’nai Tikvah, Calgary’s Reform Jewish congregation. Rabbi Howard received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University, his law degree from Washington University in St. Louis, and his rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College in 1999. In Rabbi Howard’s first rabbinic position, he served as an Assistant Rabbi in Chicago, and then, in August, 2002, he arrived in Calgary. Rabbi Howard has been an active leader in interfaith relations, and in peace and social justice initiatives. He has served on the boards of the Alliance to End Violence, Faithlink, the Calgary Committee of Christians and Jews, and Imagine Calgary. Rabbi Howard is also an adjunct faculty member at St. Mary’s University College. Rabbi Howard is blessed to share his life with his spouse, Annie, and their beautiful children, Emilie, Judah, and Adira. Howard is on the board of Canadian Friends of WASNS.

Very Rev. Bill Phipps is a former moderator of the United Church of Canada (1997-2000). He is co-founder of the Faith and Common Good network, on the Board of the Parkland Institute, a member of the Peace Consortium of the University of Calgary, and active in national and local peace, justice, and integrity of creation movements. As moderator, Bill issued the United Church Apology to Aboriginal People for Residential Schools in 1998. Bill visited the Oasis of Peace in January of 2003 with his wife, writer and peace activist Carolyn Pogue. He retired from Scarboro United Church in June of 2007. He and Carolyn have 3 children, 3 grandchildren, and live in Calgary, Alberta. Bill is on the board of Canadian Friends of WASNS.

Diane Janzen is the Program Coordinator for Project Ploughshares Calgary, a chapter of a national peace research and education organization which is a program of the Canadian Council of Churches. Diane is also a volunteer with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and has served full-time and then part-time on CPT’s projects in Hebron and At-Tuwani in the West Bank since 2003. While serving with CPT; accompanying civilians, documenting human rights abuses and supporting the work of Israeli and Palestinian peace groups, Diane had the opportunity of meeting and working many individuals committed to working for peace in the region. Diane is pleased to volunteer with Canadian Friends of WASNS in support of their efforts of creating genuine, sustainable peace between people.


Reverend Alan Whitton of Ridgeway Ontario began the work of creating Canadian Friends of NSWAS in 1999. Unfortunately, after all of his years of organization and work in setting up Canadian Friends and enlisting nationwide supporters, Alan was taken ill and passed away. Subsequently, the current Board in Calgary was formed in 2006 when Calgarian, Jan Porter- Hirsche learned of Alan’s efforts through direct contact with Wahat al-Salam/Neve Shalom during an interfaith “Prayers for Peace” event and fundraiser for Oasis of Peace. Alan’s widow, Elizabeth, has been a tremendous support to our attempts to pick up where Alan’s dream left off. We thank her for her gifts and encouragement.

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